A quick trip to a nearby drugstore Sunday evening turned into a near-death experience for a lifelong Sayville resident whose Honda Accord was one of eight vehicles involved in a fatal car accident just east of 7-Eleven on West Main Street.
Robert Schutt doesn’t recall hearing anything alarming as he turned left from the CVS parking lot, heading home westbound, around 5:20 p.m. Just moments later he was rear-ended by a SUV.
“I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t even know what happened as he hit me from behind,” said the Connetquot graduate. “He hit me, and then veered into the eastbound lane and hit another car head on.”
According to police the SUV was a Chevrolet Trailblazer driven by Thomas Herman, 46, of Patchogue. Police said Herman did not stop after hitting Schutt's Accord and struck an eastbound Hyundai Elantra driven by 82-year-old West Islip resident Sam Longo. The SUV also then crashed into five other cars along Main Street.
Longo was declared dead at the scene and his 79-year-old female passenger was taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.
Schutt said after his car hit and turned sideways on the road, he got out to respond to cries of help.
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“The man who hit my car was yelling for help and I went to him first to try and get him out of the vehicle but I couldn’t,” Schutt recalled in a phone interview Monday morning.
“I could hear a lot of people yelling and sounding very angry. I went over to the eastbound car that was hit to see if I could help the driver but it was clear I couldn’t,” said Schutt, adding he didn’t notice the car had a passenger.
The Community Ambulance Company responded with four advanced life support ambulances to help rescue the drivers trapped in the two vehicles, according to Chris Gonzales, first asstant chief.
Ann Gilbert, of Oakdale, was the passenger in the Elantra, according to police. She was transported by Community Ambulance to Southside Hospital and is being treated for neck and pelvic injuries. She is listed in critical but stable condition, according to police. Early Monday morning police arrested and charged Herman with allegedly driving while ability impaired by drugs and for leaving the scene of an accident.
After trying to help Herman and Longo, Schutt recalls walking back to his own car in a dazed state.
“I was wandering around and the police showed up and told me to stay by my car,” he said, ruefully noting that the CVS errand had been one of procrastination.
“I had all week to pick up that prescription and I didn’t. Then I’m watching football and when the game ended I just decided to go and do it and get it done. I was one of the lucky ones though,” said the 49-year-old.